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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33 No. 14. 1970



The Suppression of Communism Act, Ho. 44 of 1950, was amended in 1951, 1954. 1962. 1963, 1964, 1965, twice in 1966 and again in 1967. Under the Act, Communism is widely defined and includes, for instance, any doctrine which aims at bringing about any political, industrial, socialor economic change within the Republic in accordance with the direction or under the guidance of or in co-operation with any foreign government or international institution. As Gerald Gardner (now Lord Chancellor), observer as he then was at one of the South African treason trials said the definition of Communism is so wide that "if you were a Communist 40 years ago, you are a Communist today, and, whether, you are a Communist or not, you are a Communist if the State says so".

Photo of a girl and men with horses

The act gives the Minister or the State President important discretionary powers, the exercise of which cannot be challenged in a Court of law and the Courts have admitted that the discretionary powers given to the Minister are "of a wide and drastic kind and one which in its exercise must necessarily make a serious inroad upon the ordinary liberty of the subject. . . .Parliament may make any encroachment it chooses on the life, liberty or property of any individual subject to its sway, and it is the function of the Courts to enforce its will". (1934 A.D. at page 36)

The ordinary Common Law imposed limitations of all kinds on individual liberty, both in the interests of other individuals and in the public interest. There is ample scope for the police authorities ordinarily to prosecute for criminal incitement, conspiracy, treason, seditious libel and so Forth. What the Common Law does not authorise is arbitrary invasion of personal liberty for the expression of opinions unpalatable to party politicians, such as the opinion of the Nationalist Party who govern at the moment or the Verliqtes or the Verkramptes. In times of emergency it has been argued that emergency statutory powers giving unfettered discretion to the executive are necessary.